Jewellery and the way we wear it has changed fundamentally in the past decade, with brands once reserved for royalty moving into the everyday arena, and belle-of-the-ball diamonds being cast aside in favour of more discreet, affordable and modern options. But while styles have become more genteel, the number of places to rock your rocks is on the rise. One Saudi duo is setting its stride ahead of the curve; Lamia AlEisa, 22, and Reema Motib, 23, are co-owners of Riyadh-based jewellery concept Lamb & Lu – a website offering contemporary fine jewels – and The Piercing Annex, a travelling pop-up equivalent to a premium Los Angeles piercing studio. Bazaar caught up with the pair to find out why, what was once considered a teenage rite of passage, has become a mid-life style statement for the sartorially astute.
Reema Motib and Lamia AlEisa
“In the past 10 years, body jewellery has been completely transformed. It used to be this grunge look but now designers like Maria Tash and BVLA (Body Vision Los Angeles) have come up with all these beautiful pieces which lend themselves to alternative, and multiple, piercings,” Lamia explains. “It’s a completely unique way of expressing one’s identity as no two earlobes are ever the same.” Despite its luxury bent, the experience on offer is still clinical. There are no quilted massage chairs or essential oils, but the spearing process does deposit gold and diamonds in your ear, which softens the blow. The stainless steel barbells of yesteryear are long gone and the jewellery has become more refined, “daintier and delicate,” Reema says. The fact that the diamonds aren’t big and ostentatious – the priciest piece The Piercing Annex offers is a Dhs9,000 Maria Tash Star Garland – means that it’s not uncommon to have up to six or eight styles in one ear.
Earring, Dhs5,249, Smith+Maria
The Piercing Annex also eschews traditional brands in favour of regional and international talents whose offerings are considered more unique. As well as celebrity favourites Maria Tash and BVLA, you’ll find Bil Arabi by Nadine Kanso, Lillian Ismail and Donna Hourani flying the flag for the Middle East. Styles are plentiful, too. There are crawlers which form an orderly curve up the lobe, and chain orbits linking one precious fastening to another. The bar, excuse the pun, has been raised tenfold. It’s also not just ‘a piercing’. Those in-the-know talk about ‘curating your ear’ like a personal exhibit. “Piercing is a form of self expression, like the way you dress or wear your hair or make-up,” Lamia says. “The curated experience is not one or two piercings, it’s designing a look.” The girls have flown in a squad of professionals who have amassed 75 years of experience between them. So if your daith (bump above the earhole and the current hotspot) isn’t puncture-friendly, the experts will offer up an alternative – whether it’s your helix (top bit), tragus (the middle where the ear joins the face) or the rook (the ledge in the middle).
So why the rise of midlife multi-piercings? Maria Tash has reported that 60 per cent of her clientele is over the age of 30. Perhaps it’s reigniting a teenage rebellion and amplifying the rewards – at 16 it was a ring of steel, at 30 it’s a rose gold loop of pavé diamonds. For Reema and Lamia, the fact that piercings aren’t seasonal solidifies their appeal. They are permanent, a style statement that you have to be fully committed to. “Truly, it is not a phase. People might get a piercing when they’re 18, but that piercing stays with them.” Not everyone pierces simply for the aesthetic either. “Sometimes they get something to remember a certain moment, or person,” Reema explains.
They also admit that although it is a way for Gulf nationals to be more expressive, jewellery isn’t considered a novelty purchase for most. “We have more sentimental value when it comes to jewellery. It’s not so much a luxury, it’s just a part of being a woman,” Reema says. “What’s ironic is that I think we’re actually more accepting of piercings than Western cultures. Most of the time, anyway.”
The Piercing Annex will be at Dubai’s Alserkal from November 9-11; Lambandlu.com
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia